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My Best Brainstorming Tricks & Tips

It can be a bit intimidating the first time you assign yourself the task “come up with something cool.” How do you tackle this challenge? What’s the first step to making awesome things? Most people know about brainstorming, but many may struggle to describe what this actually looks like. I will attempt to struggle less as I lay out a few of my favorite tips and tricks for brainstorming.

The first distinction to make is whether you are brainstorming in a meeting or by yourself. We covered how to structure creative meetings here but I’ll leave you with these three quick group brainstorm tips.

  • Snacks and drinks:
    • At Backflip, we have a pretty relaxed modern workplace so there are always snacks and drinks available but in a brainstorm meeting, take things to the next level. Get out the unhealthy snacks and drinks. Bring out a variety of items. The food and drink can relax the group and get everyone into the same brain space you’re in when you’re just hanging out with friends. When you’re playing, you mind is more at ease and less self conscious about new ideas that pop up.
  • Post it notes/pens/markers:
    • Dig through the office supplies and get out all of the different color post-its, pens, markers, crayons… whatever you can find. Let each member of the brainstorming team search for the items that they feel they’d like to write and draw with. The searching and hunting for the right color pen and post it note gets your brain ready to hunt for solutions to the problems you’re trying to solve. As an added benefit, your recall will be better later when going through notes of the meeting. “Oh yeah, I wrote that on a blue piece of paper.”
  • Outside Stimuli:
    • Bring out the office toys, stress balls, fidget spinners, gadgets, etc. You want to allow minds to wander (for parts of the meeting) and these items will help with that. You can also take this a step further and use a method called bi-associating to stretch your ideas even further. We’ll write about in that in a future blog post.

My methods for getting myself into brainstorm mode when I’m working individually are actually not all that different. I have a few other specific things related to getting my thinking in a different mode but I’ll save those details for a future How I work post.

Check out our How I Work posts.